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Coping with Grieving: What You Can Expect

Published by Chapster on 2004/8/24 (4396 reads)
Each month ElderHope records a Community Focus segment at KEOM 88.5 FM 88.5 FM. One such segment, Coping with Grieving: What You Can Expect follows. It was taped at the KEOM studios on August 24, 2004.

Coping with Grieving: What You Can Expect
KEOM & ElderHope
August 24, 2004

Q: So, Mike, what are we talking about today?

A: Today, I thought we would talk a little about the grieving experience - how to determine when we might need some help.

Q: Is it sometimes hard to tell?

A: Yes, sometimes it is. Most of us try to handle our problems on our own. We feel bad about turning to others for help. Those who are going through the grieving process are especially prone to feeling as though they are not where they should be in terms of coping with their grief. With the exception of someone who has very understanding family or co-workers, our society has very short-lived tolerance for grief. We allow three work days and then it’s back to work, full bore. But, grief doesn’t function that way. The old adage that we grieve a loss for a year, while having some apparent truth to it, is not universal.

Q: So, getting back to the initial question, what kinds of issues signal that we need to get help?

A: First, we need to be aware of our functioning. We need time to absorb the shock of the death of a loved one. This process in itself takes weeks to months. Most of us will experience some deep lack of ability to function for awhile. This varies with individuals, but, in the death of someone very close, it is almost universal. Still, most of us can do the basic steps that are required to conduct life from day to day. So, the first warning sign that we need to be aware of is inability to do basic functioning on a daily basis.

Second, people who have strong control needs may experience unusual difficulties. Death, and the feelings of grief, are overpowering at times. Those feelings are often completely out of our control. For those who have the need to be in control, they may find themselves trying to force themselves to behave or act or feel in a way that is not consistent with the powerful emotion of grief. So, we hear of those who immediately go home and get rid of their loved one’s belongings. They do this to avoid the unfamiliar and painful feelings of grief. Other folks may avoid dealing with the grief by refusing to touch their loved one’s belongings, or even to change the way their loved one’s room looked.

Q: Are there other circumstances where outside help may be needed?

A: Yes. Sometimes we turn our grief into inappropriate directions. We may develop or further addictions that we already have in response to a loss. In this case we might turn to alcohol, or other substances, such as food, which numb us to the grief. Some people direct the unfamiliar energy of grief into their work, again avoiding the grief.

Q: So what is the answer?

A: The real answer is to allow ourselves to feel the grief, really feel it. While it may be an unfamiliar feeling to some, it is the one that leads to healing. Finding and voicing those feelings can take the help of a counselor, clergy, a support group, or ritual. But, the best thing that we can do is to find a way to process that grief. In doing so, we really acknowledge the impact of the person on our lives, for good or bad, and we are more truly able to let them go.

Tags: loss   grief   bereavement   sorrow   intervention  

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